Ex-EU Commissioner attacks ‘selfish’ and ‘stingy’ nations as summit reveals deep EU cracks

Günter Verheugen said he feared the climate within the EU had been “permanently poisoned” with strained relations between members likely to deteriorate further.Mr Verheugen described a draft budget thrashed out in Brussels this week as an “opportunity, but not much more”.

He said: “The primary aim was to demonstrate the ability to act and show solidarity in this crisis.

“It is also an important political signal. But unfortunately, you have to realise that the divides after the summit are as deep as before.

“There will still be a lot of hewing and stabbing. The malignancy that we experience between individual member states will only increase.”

Mr Verheugen launched a stinging attack on the so-called “Frugal Five” – The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Sweden and Denmark – who appeared to be calling the shots throughout the summit.

He said: “The behaviour of the stingy was terrifying.

“Unfortunately, it is not entirely new for wealthy countries to congregate to assert their own and selfish interests. They didn’t care about the European common good.

“The EU is not about getting as much out for yourself as possible, but about realising that our own interests are best served if we have a united and strong EU.

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“This applies primarily to Germany because we are most dependent on a functioning community.

“It’s similar with the Netherlands, they are a major beneficiary of economic integration.

“The government in The Hague should be careful not to bite the hand that feeds them.”

Mr Verheugen insisted each member state must have an absolute interest in maintaining common values and the democratic foundations in the EU.

He said: “The rule of law is indispensable. The question remains, however, whether it made sense to make this demand part of budget negotiations that require unanimity.

“It was more or less a political exhibition fight.”

(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)

source: express.co.uk